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Friday, February 8, 2013

MLB 2013 Team Preview: Minnesota Twins

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MLB 2013 Team Preview: Minnesota Twins
By Wild on Sports Baseball Analyst Aaron Dorman

MINNESOTA TWINS
2012 Record:
66-96

The Twins continued their downward slide but had to wait to start rebuilding until after the season, as most of their good players have unmovable contracts (or in the case of Joe Mauer, are not going anywhere). 

NOTABLE ADDITIONS: Vance Worley, Mike Pelfrey, Kevin Correia

NOTABLE LOSSES: Denard Span, Ben Revere, Carl Pavano, Scott Baker

Keys to Success: How soon can their outfield prospects reach the big leagues and thrive? Minnesota’s impressive collection of talent allowed them to deal both Span and Revere for pitching help, but it will be difficult for their production to be replace immediately. Are any of their fifth starter types capable of even average, or full-season, pitching? Can Josh Willingham and/or Justin Morneau hit well enough to be dealt for useful prospects?

PROSPECT WATCH:
Prospect Key:
TBD= Work in Progress
X= Posses the Tool
XX= Excels at Tool

OSWALDO ARCIA, OF (rookie watch):
Power
Speed
Hitting
Plate Discipline
Defense
Arm
x

xx
TBD
TBD

Arcia has put up some amazing offensive numbers in his brief minor league career, and could be ready for the majors soon. He hit .320/.388/.539 with 17 HR and 98 RBI between High-A  Fort Myers and AA New Britain. He was actually better in New Britain, possibly because the Florida State League is a challenging hitting environment. Arcia has a career. 314 average in the minors, and could be an offensive stud if he continues to develop his already-strong pitch recognition, which led to a career-high 51 walks last year (against 107 strikeouts).
AARON HICKS, OF:
Power
Speed
Hitting
Plate Discipline
Defense
Arm
TBD
x
TBD
xx
x
x
Hicks has been around for a while but Minnesota’s patience looks very smart now that Hicks is almost ready to contribute at the major league level. Last year Hicks spent the whole year at AA-New Britain, hitting .286/.384/.460 with 13 HR, 61 RBI, 32 SB, and 100 RS. Throughout his minor league career he has put up tremendous walk totals: 88, 78, and 79 the past three seasons. His power also took a big step forward as he more than doubled 2011’s totals in triples (11) and Home Runs (13). The 23-year-old switch hitter should be no worse than an average contributor across the board, a reasonable midrange comp being ex-Twin Matt Lawton.
MIGUEL SANO, 3B:
Power
Speed
Hitting
Plate Discipline
Defense
Arm
xx

TBD
x
TBD

Sano, a high profile international signing three years ago, is now a 20-year-old third basemen with prodigious power to the extent that it could make up for his other shortcomings as he moves up to the majors. Last year he hit .258/.373/.521 with 28 HR and 100 RBI for low-A Beloit. Errors don’t necessarily mean much in the minors but he made 42 last year and could possibly move to the outfield, or even first base, later in his career. He drew 80 walks against 144 strikeouts, showing the respect pitchers have for his power but also an aggressive approach which may always limit his batting average.
BYRON BUXTON, OF:
Power
Speed
Hitting
Plate Discipline
Defense
Arm
x
x
TBD
TBD
x
x
Buxton was taken second overall in the draft but may be the superior player, as top pick Carlos Correa was taken for strategic/money reasons. He draws rave reviews for his skill set, which he demonstrated in rookie ball last year, hitting .248/.344/.448 with 5 HR and 11 SB in 165 at-bats. The batting average was low but far more significant was his 19 walks (against 41 K), a solid approach which should keep his floor from collapsing even as his ceiling remains sky-high.
EDDIE ROSARIO, INF:
Power
Speed
Hitting
Plate Discipline
Defense
Arm
x
x
x
TBD
TBD

Rosario hit .296/.345/.490 with 12 HR and 70 RBI last year for low-A Beloit playing mostly second base. He stole 11 bases but was also caught stealing 11 times, a number which must improve for him to be an asset on the base paths. Rosario shows emerging power and a strong feel for hitting. Hit contact skills are also impressive, as he only struck out 69 times in just under 400 at-bats. 

2012 Top Draft Pick: Buxton, although fellow draft pick JO BERRIOS, RHP, had a ridiculously good debut in rookie ball. 

Sleeper MLB Contributor: JOE BENSON has had up-and-down numbers in the upper minors but still has enough talent-and more importantly, an opening-to surprise in Minnesota’s outfield. 

2013 Outlook and Projection: The Twins finally started rebuilding at the end of last year, first trading away disappointing Francisco Liriano, and later dumping the two outfielders, all for pitching help. They are just starting to balance out the disparity between their offense and pitching talent, at both the major and minor league level. Veterans Pelfrey and Correia will help hold down the fort until more interesting young pitchers arrive, but the only pitcher on the roster who might be in their long-term plans is Vance Worley, and he might be no better than a fourth starter in the American league. Their pitching is still not good, and the Twins have too many holes in their lineup-up the middle is especially sad looking these days-to contend. They are better off trading veterans, if they can, for more pitching prospects. Right now, Joe Mauer is the only player who could play for the next Twins playoff team.
REBUILDING (could contend by: 2015)

MLB 2013 Team Preview: Kansas City Royals

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MLB 2013 Team Preview: Kansas City Royals
By Wild on Sports Baseball Analyst Aaron Dorman

Kansas City Royals
2012 Record:
72-90

Any mild pretenses to respectability were gone after several of their young players either failed to develop as hoped or took a step back. Except for two months of Jeremy Guthrie, nobody in the starting rotation was even average. 

NOTABLE ADDITIONS: James Shields, Ervin Santana, Wade Davis

NOTABLE LOSSES: Wil Myers, some prospect depth

Keys to success: The pitching staff has more famous names now, but will it actually be good? That depends on Jeremy Guthrie and Ervin Santana, who must rebound from poor 2012 seasons (although Guthrie pitched well at the end of the year for Kansas City). What kind of production will they get from their outfield, aka are they seriously planning on contending with Jeff Francoeur as a full time player? Will any of their younger players develop into stars?

PROSPECT WATCH:
Prospect Key:
TBD= Work in Progress
X= Posses the Tool
XX= Excels at Tool

KYLE ZIMMER, RHP:
Velocity
Second Stuff
Command
Control
Strikeouts
Health
x
x
x
x
x
x
Zimmer, 21, is a rock solid pitching prospect, a strong mix of talent and polish. He was drafted fifth overall last year and is currently Kansas City’s top prospect, although he is a long way away. He spent his summer debut in rookie-level ball, making nine starts in which he went 3-3 with a 2.09 ERA. He also struck out 42 batters (8 walks) in 39.2 innings, all signs of future dominance.
YORDANO VENTURA, RHP:
Velocity
Second Stuff
Command
Control
Strikeouts
Health
x
TBD
TBD
x
x
x
Ventura is closer to the majors than Zimmer and he throws very hard, but his secondary stuff is not as good. It is possible that he could help Kansas city in the bullpen later this year. Ventura spent most of 2012 in High-A Wilmington, where he went 3-5 with a 3.30 ERA and 98 strikeouts in just 76 innings. His last month at AA-Northwest Arkansas, he was not as effective, putting up a 4.60 ERA in 29 innings, although still generating strikeouts (25). He’ll probably return there to start 2013.
BUBBA STARLING, OF:
Power
Speed
Hitting
Plate Discipline
Defense
Arm
x
x

TBD
x
x
Bubba Starling was Kansas City’s 2011 top draft pick, and he showed plenty of promise with rookie-level Burlington but also threw up some red flags which will slow down his timetable. Starling hit .275/.371/.485 with 10 HR and 10 SB, solid numbers in a hitting-rich league, but that batting average is misleading. Starling struck out a ridiculous 70 times in 200 at-bats, and pitchers could really take advantage of him at higher levels. Even so, there’s plenty of time, and he could still hit .230-.250 and be an everyday player. 

2012 Top Draft Pick: Zimmer

Sleeper MLB Contributor: CHRISTIAN COLON, 2B, is a former first-round pick who could become a league-average second basemen as soon as this year. 

2013 OUTLOOK AND PREDICTIONS:
The Royals were very busy this offseason turning over their starting rotation, in anticipation of a competitive season. They’ve added four new starting pitchers since last July, leaving the last spot to whoever stinks least among their bad fifth starter options- Bruce Chen, Luke Hochevar, etc. The acquisition of James Shields, however, came at the cost of one of the top prospects in baseball, Wil Myers, and it’s arguable that his replacing Jeff Francoeur, one of the worst everyday players in baseball, would have been more valuable than whoever Shields supplants, especially when you factor in money. Nevertheless, the Royals have enough young position players to expect improvement, adding to an already solid lineup core. Eric Hosmer especially should rebound back to at least his solid 2011 level of production, and he still has superstar potential. Still, asking a 72-win team to come together into a playoff-caliber unit is still a tall order, even one with a lot of latent talent.
POSSIBLE CONTENDER

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MLB 2013 Team Preview: Cleveland Indians

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MLB 2013 Team Preview: Cleveland Indians
By Wild on Sports Baseball Analyst Aaron Dorman

CLEVELAND INDIANS
2012 Record:
68-94

The Indians may have thought they were contenders based on a surprise 2011 season, but that turned out to be a mirage and their pitch-to-contact staff watched the hits fall in all year long. 

NOTABLE ADDITIONS: Nick Swisher, Trevor Bauer, Drew Stubbs, Mark Reynolds, Brett Myers, Michael Bourn, Daisuke Matsuzaka

NOTABLE LOSSES: Sin-Soo Choo

Keys to Success: Will their younger players develop into stars? The trio of Jason Kipnis, Lonny Chisenhall, and Carlos Santana all have performed at varying degrees of respectability, but for Cleveland to be taken seriously, at least of them might have to become a star. Can the change of scenery help Drew Stubbs, who has done little with the bat other than generate historic levels of wind around the batter’s box. 

PROSPECT WATCH
Prospect Key:
TBD= Work in Progress
X= Posses the Tool
XX= Excels at Tool

TREVOR BAUER (rookie watch), RHP:
Velocity
Second Stuff
Command
Control
Strikeouts
Health
xx
x
TBD
TBD
xx
x
Bauer was inexplicably dumped by Arizona despite being one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. There were rumors they didn’t like his routine in between starts despite the fact that it lead to him being one of the top pitchers in college ball a year ago. His star did not dim after going 12-2 with a 2.40 ERA between AA-AAA. In 22 starts and 130.1 innings, he struck out an impressive 157 batters while only walking 61. AAA-Reno is also a very difficult place to pitch, which makes his 2.85 ERA there even shinier. He struggled with command in a very brief major league audition (4 september starts) but there is no reason to worry about that. There is no reason to think Bauer cannot be effective in the major leagues this year. In fact, he’s probably the Indians’ best pitcher right now.
FRANCISCO LINDOR, SS:
Power
Speed
Hitting
Plate Discipline
Defense
Arm
TBD
x
TBD
x
x
x
Lindor’s numbers-.257/.352/.355 with 6 HR, 42 RBI, and 27 SB- are deceptive because he was one of the youngest players in full-season ball, hitting in low-A Lake County as an 18-year-old. Lindor showed intriguing plate discipline and bat control, and got better as the season wore on. Still, optimistic scouting reports are less about the numbers and more about his poise/professionalism/swing, which means there is still a high range of outcomes, from all-star shortstop to one who contributes mainly with his glove. He will start the year in high-A.  Another talented shortstop, DORSSYS PAULINO, is right behind him on the depth chart and shows similar tools.
CODY ALLEN, RHP (rookie watch, relief):
Velocity
Second Stuff
Command
Control
Strikeouts
Health
x

x
x
x
x
Allen tore through the minor leagues, going 8-3 with a 1.74 ERA across two seasons, with 128 strikeouts in 98 innings (only 23 walks). He spent most of the second half in Cleveland’s bullpen and acquitted himself well there, with a 3.72 ERA in 27 games, and a solid 8.4 K/9. Because of that success, he stands a very strong chance of pitching all year in middle relief, and could vie for some later innings/saves if he continues to succeed. 

2012 Top Draft Pick: Tyler Naquin, OF

Sleeper MLB Contributor: YAN GOMES was acquired from the Blue Jays and could provide right-handed power while playing several different positions over the course of the year. 

2013 OUTLOOK AND PREDICTIONS: The Indians had a very strong offseason, undoing some of the damage of the Ubaldo Jimenez mistake by acquiring a top pitching prospect on the cheap in Bauer, and adding free agents Swisher and Reynolds to improve their offense. Despite being the subject of trade rumors, solid shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera remains with the team for now. Last year the Indians fooled themselves into thinking their junkballer non-prospects like Josh Tomlin and Jeanmar Gomez could at least be average (add Derek Lowe into that mix as well), and should not have been surprised when they proved too hittable. This year, they should be more sober in their outlook: even with Bauer, they’ll still stink. Yet with just enough wish-casting, one could see Justin Masterson turning in a better year, and/or Ubaldo Jimenez bouncing back, to see the Indians surprise again…if their offense improves as well. Because their talent on hand isn’t completely without hope, they are 
POSSIBLE CONTENDERS. 

 UPDATE 2/12: The Indians signing of Michael Bourn continues a good offseason, but does not change the forecast. They probably needed Drew Stubbs to have a rebound for them to contend anyway, so this signing merely adds to the likelihood that they will have a solid center fielder. Stubbs is now trade bait.

 Click for Team Preview Homepage

Hoopshysteria: Hobbling Towards the All-Star Break

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Hoopshysteria: Hobbling Towards the All-Star Break
By Wild on Sports Basketball Analyst Talyon Perry
February 8, 2012

This is the last weekend before the all-star break, and a much needed break if you are the LA Lakers. The Lakers are broken left and right and to add insult to injury, now Gasol is out for at least 6 weeks with torn plantar fascia. Compound that with the media brawl between teammates Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard over Howard's injury. Is this a basketball team or the Desperate Housewives? On the other hand, even with out starters Blake Griffin and Chris Paul the Clippers have still managed to do well behind the amazing play of Eric Bledsoe.

Lineups for the last few All-star events were announced recently including:
3pt Competition: Ryan Anderson, Matt Bonner, Stephen Curry, Paul George, Kyrie Irving, and Steve Novak.

Slam Dunk: Gerald Green, Kenneth Faried, Jeremy Evans, Eric Bledsoe, James White, and Terence Ross.

Rising stars: Team Shaq: Damian Lillard,Kyrie Irving, Andre Drummond, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Chandler Parsons, Dion Waiters, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Tyler Zeller, and Kemba Walkerversus Team Chuck: Anthony Davis, Kenneth Faried, Kawhi Leonard, Bradley Beal, Ricky Rubio, Tristan Thompson, Nikola Vucevic,Brandon Knight, Isaiah Thomas, and Alexey Shved.


This will be an exciting weekend no matter what competition you watch. Now lets preview the last weekend of basketball before the temporary break:

Although there are matchups that would normally be great, injuries will cause these games to be less amusing. For example Friday's matchup between the Clippers and Heat. Don't worry because the Warrioirs and Grizzlies expect to carry the night's entertainment, Curry's recent play and the inside presence of Gasol and Randolph will keep this game interesting. If you choose to watch the Trailblazers and the Rockets on Friday be warned: there will be less defense than the NBA All-Star game.  Saturday night we will see a similar outside vs inside matchup when the Buck's Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis face the Piston's Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. We will cap off the weekend with the retooled Nets versus the age-old Spurs. Watch for Tony Parker and Deron Williams to do battle with each other, with Williams coming out on top.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Timmy Time on Long Island?

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Timmy Time on Long Island?

There has been buzz throughout the NHL this season about the potential for a big name goaltender to be moved. That day finally came of Thursday, but it was hardly the name most expected. The Boston Bruins have shipped two-time Vezena Trophy winner Tim Thomas to the New York Islanders for a conditional 2nd round pick.

Don't jump out of your seats just yet Islander fans. The 38 year-old Thomas has yet to step on the ice in 2013. He alerted the Bruins over the summer of his plans to take the 2012-13 season off for "personal reasons." He did however make it clear that this is not the desired end to his hockey career, hoping to return for the 2013-14 season and hopefully once again represent Team USA at the 2014 Olympics.

So with Thomas' situation being well known in all circles across the NHL, why in their right minds would New York trade for the M.I.A. aging goaltender? Surely they have plenty of cash tied up in mega bust Rich Dipietro and former Sharks standout Evgeni Nabakov. The answer in simple -- the salary cap floor.

Terrible excuse right? Well, teams like the Islanders have until mid-night Friday to reach the $44million salary cap floor. Thomas' $5million cap hit along with the return from Russia for defensemen Lubomir Visnovsky and his $5.6 million hit get them there. And hey, maybe Thomas has a change of heart and can either be lured back by former fellow American goaltender Garth Snow and company or simply misses the game and wants to play again.

Either way the Tim Thomas soap opera in Boston has finally come to a close. Its Tukka Time in Beantown. Is it Timmy Time on the Island?

Seattle Locks Up King Felix

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Seattle Locks Up King Felix

There is a new highest paid pitcher in Major League Baseball and fittingly, his name is the King. According to the USA Today, the Seattle Mariners broke the bank Thursday inking starter Felix Hernandez to a seven year $175million dollar contract. The 26 year old Hernandez, was 13-9 with a 3.06 ERA and 223 strikeouts 2012.  C.C Sabathia was previously the highest paid pitcher after signing a seven-year, $161million contract in 2009. The 2010 CY Young Award winner will make $25mil per season in the deal.

This move make a huge statement for the Mariners showing a willingness to pony up to keep their franchise player. The Mariners are the only team for which Hernandez has played. The deal will take him thru 33 years old, making it very likely that he will be among the rare few that start and fishing their careers with the same organization.

Every year there are a number of teams rumored to be interesting in Hernandez. Among them, the usual big market suspects; Boston, New York, Chicago and LA, among others. Seattle has made it clear that the King is here to stay.

2/9 11:01am - *EDITOR'S NOTE* ESPN's Buster Olney is now reporting that the deal is a 5 year extension to Hernandez's current deal that will be for $27.1million annually -- $135.5million in total. Stay tuned for more details.

NBA Fanduel Friday Players to Start - February 8th Edition

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NBA Fanduel Friday Players to Start - February 8th Edition
NBA Fanduel season is underway and Wild on Sports once again is helping you pick the best players to start this week to help you win your league. Take a few players, take all the players, take none of the players, but if last week is a sign of things to come this list is one to look at each week before setting your line-ups!
Click here to see last week's results: Feb 1 NBA Fanduel Picks 

PG  Jameer Nelson  $6,600   vs.  Cleveland Cavilers
After missing a couple games with a forearm injury Nelson returned on Wednesday night recording 25 fantasy points in 37 minutes of play. Prior to the injury Nelson had a nice little run going with 3 of the last 4 games going for 30+ FP. Cheaper than he is most weeks. A good option to start.
PG Raymond Felton  $5,700  vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
Felton has quietly put together a nice little season for the Knicks and fantasy owners a like averaging 24.5 FP's per game. At just $5,700 is a nice cheap option that will allow you to go after bigger fish later, while still offering steady production.
SG Joe Johnson  $5,700  vs.  Washington Wizards
Johnson, by all accounts, is having a bit of a down season. What better way to change that than against the 13-35 Wizards. Bit of a roll of the dice here, but the price is reasonable and the player has the ability to go off. Its just a matter of will he.
SG DeMar DeRozan  $6,200  vs.  Indiana Pacers
After back to back monster games over the weekend against the Clippers and Heat, DeRozan was held in check a bit by Aaron Bradley and the Celtics Wednesday night. Still, the kid is hot and we are going to stick with him until he shows otherwise. He is averaging just over 27 FP/game over his last 8.
SF Lebron James  $9,900  vs. LA Clippers
The James-Durant debate continues here at Wild on Sports, but with a big match-up this week against the Clippers we expect James to be in the forefront. Durant draws Phoenix, a team that he can do damage against but coach Scott Brooks has shown a willingness to rest his star players in the second half against weaker opponents. Lebron and the Heat will likely go down to the wire against LA. The match-up gives Lebron the nod and "must start" tag this week.
SF Al-Farouq Aminu  $4,200  vs.  Atlanta Hawks
Who? Yeah, we know we are reaching a bit with this one, but hear us out. Aminu is coming off a monster game on Wednesday night that saw him put up 29 fantasy points. His scoring is hit or miss but he is good for double digit boards a night. We are hoping Wednesday was the start of a nice little run for Aminu.
PF Amir Johnson  $6,500  vs.  Indiana Pacers
Despite the return of Andera Bargnani from injury, Johnson appears to be keeping the starting PF spot for the time being. In 12 starts this season Johnson is averaging 14.9 points, 10.4 boards, 2.1 assists, 1.8 blocked shots, and 1.5 steals in 37.2 minutes. That is some very good fantasy production. The run is going to end for Johnson at some point. We just hope its not for another couple of games.
PF David Lee  $8,600  vs.  Memphis Grizzlies
While being one of the higher priced options this week, Lee has been on a fantasy tare as of late averaging 35.5 FP/game including a pair of 40+ games over his last 6. With multiple dynamics to his game he offers a good option despite the tougher defensive match-up that the Grizzlies pose. 
C Chirs Bosh  $6,600  vs.  LA Clippers
Big time match-up for the Heat this week. The Clippers are struggling at just 3-7 over their last 10 games. The Heat will look to send a message to the Western Conference that the championship still goes through Miami. Love the pairing of James and Bosh who could score points off each other through assists and rebounds. If you are playing one, you might as well play the other.

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